BP CEO: ‘It wasn’t our accident’ but we’ll clean spill; Liability waivers were ‘misstep’
British Petroleum is warned to stop distributing oil spill settlement agreements
The CEO of British Petroleum told NBC’s Meredith Vieira that his company wasn’t responsible for creating the oil spill but they are responsible for cleaning it up. And he told ABC that liability waivers that fishermen were being asked to sign was an “early misstep.”
Tony Hayward said on Monday’s Today show, “It wasn’t our accident, but we are absolutely responsible for the oil, for cleaning it up, and that’s what we intend to do.”
The rig that exploded on April 20 and then sank was run by another company, Transocean, he reminded viewers. That rig, he said, “was run by their people, their processes.”
Hayward added that the failure of the rig’s “blow-out preventer” Ã¢â‚¬â€ a device that should have shut off the well when the rig exploded and sank Ã¢â‚¬â€ was “unprecedented in our industry.”
“What has failed here is the ultimate safety device on a drilling rig,” he said, “There are many barriers of protection that you have to go to before you get to this. It isn’t designed to not fail.”
Reuters notes that “Hayward also said the company was preparing for a ‘worst case scenario’ that it would need to contain the spill for two to three months.”
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano told “Good Morning America” today that it was unacceptable for BP to ask fishermen it hired to help with the cleanup of the Gulf oil spill to sign waivers that would limit the company’s liability.
“I’m looking into that right now.” she said. “I was just alerted to that and if that in fact is the case, that is a practice we want stopped immediately.”
BP CEO Tony Hayward told “GMA” this morning that the company has already put a stop to the practice.
“That was an early misstep George, frankly. We were using a standard contract. We’ve eliminated that,” Hayward told George Stephanopoulos.
Alabama Attorney General Troy King said Sunday night that he has told BP they should stop circulating settlement agreements among coastal Alabamians, the Mobile Press-Register reports. King reportedly said the agreements stipulate that residents will give up their right to sue the company in exchange for a payment of up to $5,000.
“People need to proceed with caution and understand the ramifications before signing something like that,” said King, who noted that he is prohibited from giving legal advice to private citizens. “They should seek appropriate counsel to make sure their rights are protected.”
The Press-Register reports that BP spokesman Darren Beaudo responded, “To the best of my knowledge BP did not ask residents of Alabama to waive their legal rights in the way that has been described.”
This video is from NBC’s Today Show, broadcast May 3, 2010.